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Friday, October 4, 2013

Carambola (Starfruit)

Carambola (Starfruit):

Carambola, also known as starfruit, is a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.   Carambola has distinctive ridges (usually five) running down its sides and when cut cross-section resembles a star.   The skin is thin, smooth, and waxy, and turns light to dark yellow when ripe.   The entire fruit is edible, and usually eaten out of hand, but it may be used in cooking,  and can be made into relishes, preserves and juice drinks.  The taste of the starfruit has been likened to a mix of apples, pears and citrus family fruits.   Most starfruit comes from Malaysia, but it is also grown in Israel, tropical Africa, Taiwan,  the Caribbean, and throughout South America, as well as California and Florida.
There are two kinds of starfruit: sour and sweet.  The sour variety has narrowly spaced ribs and is used mainly for cooking to give a unique tart flavor to poultry meats, and seafood.   The sweet starfruit has thick fleshy ribs , and is used for eating out of hand or mixed with other fruits in fresh salads.
Carambola is rich in antioxidants, particularly potassium and vitamin C,  low in sugar, sodium, and acid.   It is also rich in flavonoids and soluble fiber.   Carambola also contains antimicrobial activities.  Extracts of the fruit proved to have antimicrobial activity against Bacillus cerlus, E. coli, Salmonella typhi, and Staphylococcus aureus. 
Starfruit are available  from January to May and then again from July to October.  Pick firm, shiny fruit with even color.  Avoid fruit that has brown shriveled ribs.  You may store ripe starfruit at room temperature for 2 or 3 days or refrigerate, unwashed, in a plastic bag for up to a week.  Ripening fruit should be turned frequently to allow all the ribs to turn bright yellow.   When you are ready to use, wash thoroughly in cold water.  Pat dry.  Trim off the ends and any dry edges.  Cut fruit crossway in thin sections. 
Carambola contains oxalic acid which may be harmful to persons sufferings from kidney failure, kidney stones, or to those under kidney dialysis.   If your kidneys are healthy, though,  there is no concern, they filter out the oxalic acid. 
For a beautiful fruit platter arrange  bright green slices of kiwi, slices of golden starfruit and ripe red strawberries.
So....... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.